Techstars Second Annual State of Innovation Survey Reveals 76% of Founders Are Optimistic for Their Startup in 2024

Jun 25, 2024

The survey is based on responses from 1,550 entrepreneurs and venture capital investors within Techstars’ global network

New York, June 25, 2024 – Techstars, a pre-seed investor, released its second annual State of Innovation Survey today. The survey finds that despite persisting headwinds in private markets and a lack of confidence in the return of tech M&A and IPOs anytime soon, founders are still overwhelmingly optimistic about their startup’s prospects this year.

“It doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that founders everywhere are feeling optimistic even when headlines are flashing red. The fact is, entrepreneurs are going to follow their dreams and change the world regardless of their environment,” said David Cohen, Founder and CEO of Techstars. “Still, the reality of today’s tighter VC market means that supporting entrepreneurs who have a burning desire to tackle the defining issues of our time - from climate change to human longevity and beyond - with capital, mentorship, and connections, is more important than ever to help them succeed.”

Based on an analysis of responses from 1,550 entrepreneurs and investors from across the globe, the State of Innovation Survey dives into how respondents view innovation in their sector, startup communities, and around the world. 

Key Findings

The following outlines the key insights from the survey, demonstrating the trends that are shaping the early-stage innovation ecosystem:

State of the Market

  • Entrepreneurs and VCs agree that tech M&A or IPOs are unlikely to make a big return this year. Only 40% of respondents indicated they are “very confident” or “extremely confident” that M&A will recover this year. Only 17% believe that the IPOs will return in earnest this year.

  • By and large, entrepreneurs are no longer striving for a public debut. Only 15% of founders say their primary long-term goal for their startup is to go public, while 34% say their goal is to be acquired, and 30% would opt to remain private.

Entrepreneur Life

  • 31% of founders work at least 60 hours per week with 17% of those working 70 hours or more.

  • Founders tend to be serial entrepreneurs. 79% of current entrepreneurs have worked for other startups in the past. 45% have worked for multiple startups (two to four) previously. 

Innovation Drivers

  • There are no standout drivers of innovation today, underscoring that it takes an ecosystem for innovation to thrive. Respondents' answers were spread nearly evenly across “VC and Angel Investors" (22%), “Accelerator Programs” (19%), and “Community and Proximity to Other Startups” (18%). 

Most Innovative Sectors

  • AI might be the megatrend of the moment but the majority (60%) of founders surveyed are not building an AI solution. However, 33% are using AI as an enabler of their business. 41% say AI is a direct component of their business. 

Innovation Hubs

  • Almost half (48%) of entrepreneurs and VCs believe Silicon Valley will still be the world’s most innovative hub five years from now, followed by Singapore (31%), Tel Aviv (27%) and New York City (25%). 

  • 29% of respondents believe that the U.S. will lead in startup formation compared to other regions globally. Notably, nearly three times as many respondents predict that Africa will produce the most startups this year compared to Western Europe.

For additional survey results, including a closer look at the mental health impact of entrepreneurship and a breakdown of innovation by sector, please visit: 

About Techstars

Techstars invests in early-stage startups led by unstoppable entrepreneurs with transformative businesses. With 45+ accelerators worldwide, an unrivaled network of alumni, mentors, commercial partners, investors, and dedicated operating teams, Techstars supports entrepreneurs throughout their entire startup journey while helping to build thriving startup communities. Since 2006, we have invested in more than 4,400 portfolio companies,  accelerating the growth of businesses including Chainalysis, Zipline, DataRobot, Alloy and many, many more.

Media Contact for Techstars:

Amalia Lytle